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DJ Vaski: Meet the young dubstep king from Minnesota

Categories: DJ Q&A
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Walking into a dubstep party in Minneapolis is like stepping foot into an alternate universe in the future, unearthly wobbles and schizo tempo wafting through the air along with the distinct smell of sweat and patchouli. At a recent show at the Loft promoted by the wildly popular crew TC Dubstep, DJ Vaski looked out at the crowd and grinned. The producer of hit tracks "Get Down" and "World on Fire" is home for the moment, but will soon be off to another exotic location to spin his drum-and-bass derivative for the next club full of rabid partygoers carrying on the '90s rave spirit.

What's tripped-out about Vaski--born Alex Brouwer in Savage, Minnesota--is that he's become one of the global scene's most recognized names before he can even legally drink. The latter fact becomes even more apparent when the 20-year-old tells us his main influence is his father, who listened to "a lot of house and trance" while young Vaski was growing up. (We'll pause a moment while old-school heads pick their jaws up off the floor and feel ever more ancient.)

Excited to play for hometown fans at the big New Year's Eve bash at the Loft this week, Vaski touched base with us to explain how his fast-paced lifestyle came to be.

Gimme Noise: First things first, let's talk about your raver dad.

Vaski: He listened to a lot of house and trance growing up. I used to hate it; the repetition and boring drums annoyed me. Eventually I came around and thought it was cool. Through liking some of the bigger house and trance names, I discovered the Prodigy. This was a huge step for me, and I got really into the breakbeats and synths they used.

Gimme Noise: When did you start traveling to play out? What really sparked your career? Was it "Get Down"?

Vaski: I started traveling for gigs in November of '09. Before that I just played lots of local shows. Yes, "Get Down" was a huge part of it, but I started playing out before that was released. The Terror Dome EP was the release that got my name out there, and World on Fire EP [the release with "Get Down" on it] was what really blew me up.

Gimme Noise: What's been your favorite gig so far, in any city?

Vaski: The first Excision show at the Loft was off-the-wall crazy, and the 16-bit show there was the first time I crowd-surfed while playing. The energy was just mind blowing.

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Photo by Denis Jeong Plaster
Vaski at Bassgasm at First Avenue

Gimme Noise: When you're working on a track, do you have any specific rituals?

Vaski: I don't always do the same thing, and sometimes I don't do anything really. The way I see it, working your creativity is like working muscles. When you work out, if you do the same thing every time, you won't get anywhere--your muscles respond much better if you change things up regularly. The stuff I do is anything that attempts to break down the barrier of the subconscious. My favorite exercise is to sit down and type everything that's on my mind out for 10 or 15 minutes straight. You set a timer, and you can't stop writing the entire time. It doesn't matter what you write about. It's not really like journaling, but it's surprising what comes up.

Gimme Noise: Where does the name Vaski come from?

Vaski: I put my favorite letters in a random word generator and eventually it came up with "Torvaski" I shortened it to Vaski and it stuck.

Gimme Noise: What do you think about the local dubstep scene?

Vaski: The local scene is awesome. Minneapolis has a lot to offer, and I can only see it getting bigger and bigger. I remember years ago going to dubstep shows where there would be 60 to 80 people, and that was a good night. Now there is more like 500 to 800 depending on who's playing.

Gimme Noise: Do you think dubstep will be around in 10 years?

Vaski: Absolutely. It's gone too far to just disappear. If it is still popular and in the limelight, so to speak, then I think it will sound completely different than it does now. Right now, the genre is extremely different than it was even three years ago. Drum and bass has been around forever, and a lot of people compare dubstep to drum and bass as far as the life cycle of the genre goes. I don't think it's going to be the same. Dubstep is infiltrating the pop music scene more than drum and bass did, and the pop scene is much more accepting of electronic music in general now. Lots of top-40 tracks today are now incorporating elements that were used two or three years ago in the underground scene. History repeats itself, yes, but circumstances always change.

Gimme Noise: What keeps you motivated?

Vaski: I don't really know, I just decided a while ago what I was going to do, and I haven't stopped.

VASKI performs with Bongore and Tomba at the TC Dubstep New Year's Eve on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 31, at THE LOFT AT BAR-FLY; 612.333.6100

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